The Lens published an investigation in August revealing the Orleans Parish School Board abandoned plans to test school water for lead. Last week, Lens reporter Marta Jewson uncovered more about why the school board abandoned the testing plan, and it involves disagreements with the Sewerage and Water Board.
According to the Lens, the district originally announced a plan to test for lead in school water the day several Michigan state employees were charged for crimes related to the Flint water crisis, in which potentially thousands of children were poisoned by lead-tainted water.
The Lens reports the school system came up with a plan last year to remove drinking fountains if tests revealed lead levels higher than 10 parts per billion. However, the Sewerage and Water Board argued the school system should allow more lead in the water, up to 20 parts per billion. That's the level at which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking action. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should not drink water with lead levels higher than 1 part per billion.
The district changed its plan to allow for 15 parts per billion, but according to the Lens, it appears no further action was taken in implementing the tests.
School district officials told the Lens they talked to experts who advised in the spring of 2017 that installing water filters at each school would be the best course of action. The filters have not yet been installed. The district waited several months until August 2017 to put out a request for companies to make bids on the installation.
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